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Thread: Where to Find Help When You're Hurting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Where to Find Help When You're Hurting


    In addition to our support forum here at the Canine Cushing's Board, there are a number of organizations and websites that offer services and resources to pet owners who are grieving the loss of their beloved companions. Listed below are some "starting points." We will be adding to this list as time goes on. Please let us know if you have found an organization or resource that has been particularly helpful to you.

    Support, Information, and Memorials:

    The ASPCA maintains this supportive link for pet owners facing difficult decisions about end-of-life issues:

    Whatís Your Grief is a website devoted to providing support and resources for anyone who is experiencing grief in any form. Of particular comfort may be the article entitled, ĒGrowing Around Grief,Ē which offers a hopeful model for our own lifeís path following a loss.

    "Important Things to Know About Grief and Loss," By Jacquelyn Strickland, LPC, HSP -- This is a very helpful article containing insightful information about the grieving process and also suggestions as to personal coping strategies that may ease your journey.

    Veterinary School Hotlines:
    This page contains links to vet school hotlines across the country.

    Professional Counseling:

    Sometimes the grief that we feel may be so intense or so long lasting that it is helpful to talk with a professional counselor. For many of us, our dear pets have been the one constant support in our daily lives. When all else goes wrong, we have had them to love and to love us back. When we lose them, suddenly we may find it difficult to cope with our other problems or burdens. If you find yourself struggling, the help of a professional counselor or therapist can be invaluable. There are many types of "helping" professionals -- for instance, psychologists, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors. The important thing is to find a professional with whom you feel comfortable.

    How to find a helping professional? Some of the websites above offer links to therapists with interests in pet loss. Also, you can always ask your vet if he or she can refer you to a trained professional. However, if you or your spouse are employed, you may also want to find our whether your employer has an "Employee Assistance Program." Typically, such programs allow employees/family members to make initial contact with a counselor who helps to evaluate their problems and then offer appropriate referrals. If your employer provides insurance coverage for therapy, the "EAP" counselor can help make sure that the referral is to a professional who is covered by your insurance.

    If you want to find a counselor or a therapist "on your own," here are some national referral resources. For each of these sites, once you reach the homepage, you will find a link to search for counselors in your area.

    American Psychological Association
    National Association of Social Workers
    American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

    In addition, many individual states have Licensed Professional Counselor associations. You can check this out by looking in the telephone directory or performing an internet search for your state.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    Hi I am extremely in denial at the moment that the eventuality will one day occur, and I would like to thank you most sincerely for your kindest at putting these resources here - MANY THANKS

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Pets Grieve, Too.

    We would like to collect a set of resources addressing the grief that our other pets may suffer at the time that a companion passes.

    Many thanks to Debbie ("StarDeb55") for directing us to this article by Maggie Johnson:
    Do Pets Grieve? (Scroll down to the "Animals Grieve Too" section)

    Thanks to Jane ("Franklin's Mum") for these two links:

    Leslie ("Squirt's Mom") has kindly supplied this link:

    And Shelba ("sunimist") offers yet more support:

    If any of you find other writings or websites that are helpful, please let us know so that we can add them here, as well.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    New Jersey

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    Quote Originally Posted by labblab View Post
    Bumping up.
    Thanks for this; the U of Penn site has a lot of good stuff...I know I have Wallace Sife's book "The Loss of a Pet" tucked away somewhere. The early days and weeks are very tough to adapt to. It is true, that bonds with our pets may be stronger than those with's never "just a dog" or "just a cat"'s a relationship and you have very fond memories. Even tho' you are sad that they are no longer with you.

    As I recently pulled out all my dog photos to reminisce, I think I am going to make 3 Aussie scrapbooks and include little passages. It will be a nice way to remember them and honor their lives. Mandy was the one with the most personality, and had a very full, long life, but her predecessors were great dogs as well.

  5. #5
    mytil's Avatar
    mytil is offline Administrator and always In Loving Memory
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    I know exactly what you mean - my bond with my Mytilda is still very strong and not a day goes by that I do not think of her. It is a strange thing, but one of my "girls" Myclan has so much of Mytilda in her it is uncanny; almost like part of Mytilda is inside this little girl.

    I think it is a great idea to make the scrapbooks!

    My continued ((((((hugs))))))

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Sterling, VA (NOVA)

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    Not a day goes by that I don't miss my boy, even 16 months after his death. I am sure I will always miss him. I created a website to electronically 'scrapbook'. It documents his long happy life, his struggles with cushings and cancer, and the incredible grief. I don't want to forget any part of our life together. I also did one of those hard cover photo books from Shutterfly. It's the easiest way to scrapbook, from someone with little patience.

    I put together a page on Grief and Loss, as well as anticipatory grief, and have been touched lately to have several people tell me how much it helped them.

    We all just want to know that we are not alone when suffering so severely from a loss that not many understand. Pet loss grief is shrugged off by society, and ignored even more than any other type of grief.

    I take the bad memories with the good ones, as they have all shaped me. And for those in the midst of grief, may you find support and understanding and never feel alone.

    I like this poem... so I will share it here.

    Donít tell me that you understand
    Donít tell me that you know,
    Donít tell me that I will survive
    Or how I will surely grow.

    Donít tell me that this is just a test
    That I am truly blessed
    That I am chosen for this task
    Apart from all the rest.

    Donít come at me with answers
    That can only come from me,
    Donít tell me how my grief will pass,
    That I will soon be free.

    Donít stand in pious judgment
    Of the bounds I must untie,
    Donít tell me how to suffer
    And donít tell me how to cry!

    My life is filled with selfishness,
    My pain is all I see,
    But, I need you now,
    I need your love, unconditionally.

    Accept me in my ups and downs,
    I need someone to share,
    Just hold my hand and let me cry,
    And say, ďMy friend, I care.Ē

    By Joanetta Hendel
    Bereavement Magazine
    Bettina & Angel Niko

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    New Jersey

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    That's a wonderful poem true! We become so attached to our furball's very hard to part.

    Jeff & Angel Mandy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    rural central ARK

    Default Re: Support and Counseling Resources

    Important Things to Know About Grief and Loss
    By Jacquelyn Strickland, LPC, HSP

    What I know for sure about grief and loss is that it will happen to you, to everyone you know, and to everyone else in the world. And I know it will be very painful, if not excruciating. I also know that grief is a normal emotional reaction of sadness or sorrow to a disturbing situation whether that is change, loss, disaster, or misfortune. Grief is a natural process and it is not a symptom of weakness, nor is it something to fix or overcome. It is something to honor, accept and learn from. Unfortunately, our society does not view grief and loss as important, nor does it allow us the proper time to heal from its often devastating impact.

    There are many types of grief. It might be helpful to familiarize yourself with them in order to anticipate, prepare or heal from a grief you may have already experienced.

    The Many Definitions of Grief

    Normal grief: A realization that things are changing, evolving or transforming and that these events are out of our control. Examples for children or young adults may be: moving from one grade to another, leaving behind a favorite teacher or classmates; not being chosen as a teammate for a preferred role in play, sports or other esteemed positions. Examples of normal grieving for adults might be simply growing older, adjusting to a new lifestyle after a job change or retirement, or grieving the youthful appearance you once had. These feelings usually pass with time without too much disruption of normal day to day life.

    Like all grief, however, it still helps tremendously to be able to acknowledge the loss and/or the hoped for experience, and to share all the accompanying feelings in a safe, nurturing environment. This is a priceless gift we can give to ourselves and our children.

    Complicated grief: Often involves tragic, sudden or unfortunate events, such as death, divorce, and/or situations where there many unanswered questions with no readily available answers.

    Unresolved grief: Involves chronic, unremitting feelings of sadness that do not lessen with time, and in fact often worsen over time. This is usually connected to some type of complicated, historical or disenfranchised grief.

    Historical grief: Individual and collective emotional or psychological injury during one’s lifetime and from past generations. Examples of historical grief would be individual and shared experiences of Native Americans who experienced massive loss of life, land and culture. The Holocaust would be another example of massive loss of life, unresolved trauma, and survivor’s guilt often subconsciously passed down the generations.

    Disenfranchised grief: This is a type of grief that is not usually “openly grieved” because society or our own family does not recognize it as being important enough to feel sad about. Examples may include the death of a pet, a miscarriage, feelings and experiences related to sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia. It may even be a part of the cultural bias many HSPs experience from a dominate culture that views sensitivity as a weakness.

    Existential grief: Despite a life of comfort and security, existential grief is a sense of alienation, despair, pain or deep sorrow for the world at large. This often unexplainable “existential angst” can create a soulful yearning for a connection to a deeper spiritual meaning. We might find ourselves struggling with questions such as: "How does one possibly survive all of life’s sorrows and limitations – especially when there seems to be no tangible way to make a difference?” A more helpful question may be to ask: "How can I express love?"

    The recent catastrophe in Haiti is an example of existential grief. The world wide response, especially the musical performances televised during the “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” provided a wonderful healing opportunity by helping us all to feel our emotions through song. It also helped us to feel connected to a larger purpose, and offered a way to make a tangible difference by making a financial contribution to the relief efforts.

    Symptoms of Unresolved Grief

    • Grief does not lessen, but worsens with time
    • Prolonged preoccupation with the loss
    • Intense yearning for answers or a connection to a loved one
    • Inability or difficulty in moving forward with one’s life
    • Withdrawal, mood swings, irritability, anger, bitterness, depression
    • Inability to perform tasks
    • Lack of trust in others
    • Feeling life has lost its meaning
    • Emotional numbness or detachment
    • Inability to experience life in the ‘present moment’ often drifting off in conversations or when engaged in an activity

    New Research on Grief and Loss

    Older coping strategies for dealing with grief and loss are fortunately just that – out of date! Advice used to range from: don’t dwell on the loss, get busy doing something for others, don’t hold onto old memories, time heals all, and you’ll find something else to replace the loss.

    Newer research is quite to the contrary. In fact, it tells us:

    1. Time does not heal – it only conceals.
    Unless feelings are identified, clarified, shared and processed they will remain somewhere within our psyche or held within our bodies. Therapies like EMDR and Hakomi utilize this truism when clients experience a strong emotion by asking them to scan the body from top to bottom and identify where there is a feeling of discomfort, or tightness in the body. Research has now identified there is a belief, emotion, bodily sensation and image associated with most trauma.

    2. It is okay to hold onto memories, and it’s okay to “not let go.”
    In fact, research has shown it is healing to use past memories of a loving experience as a source of comfort.

    3. It’s okay to stay connected in a different way
    This might include having an internal dialogue with a loved one asking how they might respond to a situation, or imagining them being present to enjoy a celebration or special occasion. For example, “If Dad were here, I’m sure he would …”

    4. There is often a silver lining in grief and loss
    This is probably the most difficult to comprehend especially when the loss is new. However, many who have healed from grief report embarking on different life paths which have helped deepened the richness of their lives. This was brought about by profound changes in their perception and acceptance of life’s mysteries.

    Coping Strategies for Healing from Grief

    1. Do not delay the grieving process. The sooner you can acknowledge the reality of the grief and loss, the sooner you can begin to heal.

    2. Educate yourself on the stages of grief and loss and find a person, professional or support group to share these stages with. Sharing grief with others can help ease isolation and feelings of helplessness.

    3. Become friends with your grief and tears, remembering that tears are like a shower for your soul. Aurora Winter, in From Heartbreak to Happiness, shares it is helpful to remember being in a storm with thunder, lightening, and dark threatening clouds … then remember when the sun came out and you saw a rainbow. This could be the beginning of a process when visions of a new future might emerge.

    4, Write in a journal on a daily basis. This is a safe place to identify the many emotions you will be experiencing. This would include identifying all of the various parts of yourself connected with the grief issue. The emotions of these personas may include: anger, betrayal, sadness, confusion, hurt, powerlessness, frustration, hopelessness, or love and yearning. If given a voice, what would each of these emotions want to say? Give them a voice in your journal.

    5. Write a letter to the person(s) involved with the issue … Depending upon the content, use discretion on whether or not to actually share it with others.

    6. Look for meaning by asking yourself “What is there to learn from this?”

    7. Listen to music, read poetry to specifically elicit feelings of melancholy. Remember it is okay and important to feel your feelings and find a way to express them. Unexpressed feelings will emerge, and it’s best they do so in a safe environment.

    8. Research historical examples of generational grief and loss as it may pertain to your own family and culture.

    9. Make a list of all past grief issues in your life. Be honest with yourself about the need for further healing or closure.

    10. Talk about the experience until you have fully accepted the reality of the loss. This includes processing the ramifications and consequences the impact this loss has had on you. Reminder: this is a process and may take months or years to complete.

    Finally, let us all choose to be a part of a healthy paradigm shift where grief and loss is honored as the important life passage that it is -- one that needs attention, nurturing and most importantly time to journey through process. Life can and should be forward moving and joyful – if we do the necessary work to heal.

    James, John W., Friedman, Russell, (1998). The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death Divorce, and Other Losses, Harper Publications.

    Neimeyer, Robert A., editor in “Meaning Reconstruction and the Experience of Loss.”

    Vicki Quarles, LCSW, Boulder, Colorado. (Personal communication with another HSP therapist and colleague, January 2010).

    Winter, Aurora, (2005). From Heartbreak to Happiness, A Diary of Intimate Healing.

    Whitebeck, LB, et al, (2001). Perceived discrimination traditional practices and depressive symptoms among American Indians in upper Midwest, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(4), 400-18.
    "May you know that absence is full of tender presence and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten." John O'Donahue, "Eternal Echoes"

    Death is not a changing of worlds as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    Default Re: Where to Find Help When You're Hurting

    Thank you so much for this.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    New York

    Default Re: There are no sad dogs in heaven.

    I have read:
    The Pet Loss Companion by Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio
    He leads the longest running pet loss group in New Jersey so his words, suggestions, stories are helpful.
    Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman
    Very powerful and insightful on grief/loss and healing. Meant to be read one page per day. Gives you a thought/short story to latch on to for that day - to help get you through. Not written for pet loss but grief is grief whether its human loss or pet.
    Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
    A book of her poems about her current and past dog friends. A focus on nature as the forever thing in our lives and how that melds with our furry friends as the temporary thing in our lives. I don't like poetry but these poems really touched me.
    I have also read A dog Purpose and its sequel A Dogs Journey...very light reads that are told from the dogs perspective!
    I don't read many books but reading has been a source of comfort over the 3 months since my little guy passed.
    Maybe others can add to this list.
    Take care
    Banzai. Dx diabetic june 2012. false positive uccr and lddst 6 months prior to a diabetes diagnosis. Put to rest 11.22.13 after receiving Dx. of pancreatic cancer. RIP little man 3.30.05 - 11.22.13

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